Rotator Cuff Tears

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The rotator cuff refers to a set of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder capsule. When one or more of these are damaged or ruptured, it is called a rotator cuff tear. Rotator cuff tears are a type of rotator cuff problem that commonly result in shoulder pain and an increased loss of motion in the shoulder joint.

Besides rotator cuff tears, other rotator cuff problems include:

  • Partial tear or Complete (full-thickness) tears
  • Tendonitis and impingement pain (swollenness) in the tendons

What Causes It?

Common possible causes of a rotator cuff tear include:

  • Injury: If you fall and land on your outstretched arm, or suffer a sudden and forceful trauma on the shoulder, it can cause the tendons to tear.
  • Degeneration: Part of the ageing process means that the tendons in the shoulder capsule may encounter a lack of blood supply, making them more susceptible to wear and tear.
  • Shoulder impingement syndrome: This refers to the impingement (rubbing) of bone against the rotator cuff tendon, leading to friction and tearing.

Signs & Symptoms

People with rotator cuff tears usually experience the following symptoms:

  • Shoulder pain when lifting or rotating the affected arm
  • Weakness in the shoulder and limited ability to move the affected arm
  • Cracking sound or popping sensation when moving the affected arm
  • Pain when trying to sleep on the injured side

A tear to the shoulder from an acute injury can cause immediate, intense pain and weakness in the upper arm.

If you notice any of the above symptoms, get assessed by a shoulder subspecialist promptly.

Make an appointment with Dr Yung at 62355225 today.

How is a Rotator Cuff Tear Treated?

Treatment depends on the severity of the tear, and can comprise of non-surgical and surgical methods. The main goal of treatment is to reduce pain and regain mobility in the shoulder.

Non-surgical treatments include:

  • Rest and activity modification: Letting the shoulder heal with time and avoiding actions that worsens the injury can aid in the natural healing process.
  • Physiotherapy: Specific exercises can help to strengthen supporting muscles in the shoulder and improve range of motion.
  • Pain and anti-inflammatory medications: This can help to provide symptomatic relief by reducing pain and inflammation.
  • Braces and slings: This helps to provide stability and support to the shoulder while it heals.

Surgical treatment for rotator cuff tears, on the other hand, will be considered when conservative treatment has not proved successful, or if the tear was already severe to begin with.

Surgery to repair the rotator cuff may include removing bone spurs or repairing torn muscles and tendons in the shoulder. These may be accomplished through open surgery or arthroscopic surgery (minimally invasive technique), where possible.

Dr Yung is skilled in the arthroscopic repair of ligaments and tendons of the shoulder.

For a detailed evaluation, make an appointment at 62355225 today.

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